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Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale presents “Mozart’s Musings” with 2019 GRAMMY-winning conductor Jeannette Sorrell, November 13-17

Sorrell, the founding director of Cleveland period instrument ensemble Apollo’s Fire and a San Francisco native, makes her conducting debut with PBO in concerts featuring Mozart and Grétry

October 7, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO—Acclaimed conductor Jeannette Sorrell, 2019 GRAMMY Award winner for the Apollo’s Fire album Songs of Orpheus, makes her long-awaited debut as guest conductor with Philharmonia for the concert set “Mozart’s Musings” this November. Sorrell leads PBO in a voyage through Mozart’s output from childhood to maturity, with some rarely-heard gems along the way, including a suite by Mozart’s then-popular contemporary André Grétry. “Mozart’s Musings” runs November 13-17 at venues across the Bay Area; see full listing information below.

The program begins with the overture to Mozart’s La finta semplice, composed when Mozart was just 12 years old. Young Wolfgang was already quite the sensation in Vienna, and Emperor Joseph II suggested to Mozart’s father, Leopold, that Wolfgang should begin to establish himself as an opera composer. Due to accusations from competing composers that the 12-year-old had not actually composed the opera himself, Leopold chose not to have it staged in Vienna; it premiered the following year, 1769, in Salzburg. Since then, La finta semplice was not staged until 2006, but it remains a delightful foreshadowing of young Mozart’s eventual genius in comic opera.

Sorrell refers to André Grétry, a composer active at the same time as Mozart, as “Mozart with a French accent.” Grétry was popular in his day, particularly for his comic operas, and Sorrell leads PBO in a curated orchestral suite with works from La Caravane du Caire and his Zémire et Azor, the original text of which was based on the Marmontel fairy tale La belle et la bête.

“As a ten-year-old prodigy, Mozart played in Geneva for Grétry, the foremost Parisian composer of comic operas” notes PBO’s Scholar-in-Residence Bruce Lamott. “Despite his father’s urging though, Mozart made no other personal contact with Grétry in his adult life, but their operas and personal styles co-existed, even sharing the same stage in Vienna.”

Rounding out the program are two Mozart instrumental works from his middle and later years. PBO’s own oboist Gonzalo X. Ruiz, himself a GRAMMY nominee, steps forward as soloist in the Oboe Concerto in C major, K. 314. Mozart seems to have liked this concerto enough to re-work it as a Flute Concerto the following year. Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550, with its instantly recognizable opening theme and one of only two Mozart symphonies in a minor key, brings this Mozartian journey to a close.

Listing information:

“Mozart’s Musings”
November 13–17, 2019

Jeannette Sorrell, conductor
Gonzalo X. Ruiz, oboe

MOZART Overture to La finta semplice, K. 51
GRÉTRY Orchestral suite from Zémire et Azor
MOZART Concerto for Oboe in C major, K. 314
MOZART Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550

Wednesday November 13 @ 7:30 pm | Bing Concert Hall, Stanford
Friday November 14 @ 8 pm | Herbst Theatre, San Francisco
Saturday November 15 @ 8 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley
Sunday November 17 @ 4 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley

Stephanie Li
Marketing Associate